With the election won, the Bush Administration and its Congressional allies are moving rapidly ahead with plans to radically revamp the country's environmental laws with the general aim of making it cheaper and easier for corporations to pollute.
The favors are already being parceled out, as Ari Berman reported recently in The Daily Outrage. This month Congress authorized drilling in the protected Yukon Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, opened up the East Coast's largest undeveloped island for commercial exploration, defeated an amendment eliminating subsidies for timber corporations, and slashed clean water spending by $242 million.
Moreover, in keeping with its first-term rejection of the Kyoto Accords on climate change, the White House is working to keep an upcoming eight-nation report from endorsing broad international policies designed to curb global warming, as Juliet Eilperin revealed recently in the Washington Post.
Fortunately, there are plenty of groups determined to protect the environment from the Administration, and it's critical that they receive support to carry on these next four years. The widely known organizations like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the NRDC and the League of Conservation Voters are all gearing up for the fight of their lives. There are also hundreds of other grassroots environmental groups vowing to resist Bush's second-term assault on the planet. You can help the environment by helping them.
"We have fought a three-year battle to blunt a string of radical environmental attacks by this Administration and we're not about to stop now," says Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife. "Though we fully realize that those fights may get harder in the next Bush term, we stand ready to meet the challenge, and to protect our natural heritage for our children and grandchildren."
Clean Water Action is trying to combat various Administration proposals that threaten to undermine the safety of many municipal US water systems. "We made sure our members got to the polls and we will make sure they continue to stand up for healthier communities during the second Bush Administration," said Bob Wendelgass, the group's director.
Environmental Defense, a group dedicated to linking "science, economics and law to create innovative, equitable and cost-effective solutions to society's most urgent environmental problems," is in the forefront of the Living Cities movement, which is organizing support for things like mass transportation, solar-powered stoplights, tax credits for farmers' markets, more green space in new developments, financial incentives to revitalize abandoned industrial lands, and a decrease in the use of fossil fuels generally.
The California Wilderness Coalition is the only organization specifically dedicated to protecting California's wild places and native biodiversity. Through advocacy and public education, CWC builds support for threatened wild places and works with community leaders, businesspeople, local organizations, policy-makers, and activists in an effort to promote a broader view on the value on conservation.
It's also, of course, more important than ever to stay informed. One of the best ways to keep up on environmental news is by reading Grist, an online magazine which tackles environmental topics with irreverence, intelligence, and a fresh perspective. The mag's feisty Seattle-based staff publishes new content each weekday, and its reporting, cartoons, interviews with activists, book reviews, and environmental advice column offer some of the sharpest eco-news around.
Republican Senator John McCain had it right when he recently criticized the Administration's environmental record as "disgraceful." With a president concerned far more with politics and profits than safeguarding the planet for future generations, a powerful grassroots movement is the only defense against rapid ecological devastation. So join, volunteer with, contribute to and otherwise support one of the many environmental groups operating in the US today.